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The SBI View: Klinsmann’s reflection on Donovan’s career reveals how different they are

Landon Donovan USMNT 33

Photo by Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY Sports


EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — For all that Landon Donovan has accomplished in his storied career, there has always been the lingering feeling from some circles that he could have achieved even more had he pushed himself a little harder.

Jurgen Klinsmann shares that feeling.

Much has been said about Klinsmann and Donovan and their falling out since the U.S. Men’s National Team head coach left the legendary American off this summer’s World Cup roster. But listening to Klinsmann talk ahead of Donovan’s U.S. swan song against Ecuador on Friday, it was evident just how different the two men are.

Klinsmann has always been a holistic person. A devout believer in pushing himself and others to move out of their comfort zones in order to grow. He doesn’t like resting on laurels, preferring instead to shoot for the stars even if the end result isn’t what was desired.

Donovan, meanwhile, has almost always stayed where he felt at ease. Even in the moments in his career where he strayed a bit, he would quickly return to more friendly confines, finding the inner peace and happiness that have made him so successful. He’s always been best in his nest.

“I think every player makes his own decisions in how far he wants to take certain things,” said Klinsmann. “I wish he would’ve gone a longer time at Bayern Munich to prove his point because he was right there. All he needed was a goal here and there in one of the games that he came on and maybe he can explain (why he didn’t stick it out) better, and other incidences where he went overseas or he simply just wanted to play his career in MLS, which is fine too if that’s what he wants.

“I think as a coach you always wish for that extra piece that you see in somebody and I think he had that opportunity and if he’s fine with it that’s okay. I think he could’ve gone even further.”

Donovan’s failed stint under Klinsmann at Bayern Munich in 2009 – where many believe the initial ripples in their now obviously-strained relationship began – was far from the 32-year-old attacker’s only experience in European club soccer.

He enjoyed two separately successful stints in 2010 and 2012 at Everton, a place where he said he felt very comfortable, but also had a pair of spells at Bayer Leverkusen where things just did not pan out. He felt homesick there, returned to MLS and lit the league ablaze. All while developing into the mighty fine player that set multiple lofty records for club and country.

“He gave it twice a chance with Leverkusen, it didn’t work out, and there are many reasons why sometimes certain things don’t work out,” said Klinsmann. “You saw it with Clint Dempsey in January with Fulham, it didn’t work out the right way for him because he came with some problems but then he scored two goals at the World Cup.

“As a coach, you want to see a player that drives for his 100 percent. I’m looking at Landon always and I wish in a certain way, ‘He could have done a bit more here and a bit more there,’ but he had a tremendous career, so he deserves that farewell tomorrow night.”

Klinsmann may have had high praise for Donovan on the eve of the LA Galaxy star’s 30-minute goodbye from the international game, but that does not mean he lamented the controversial decision to leave Donovan behind this summer.

While Donovan’s place in the starting lineup heading into Brazil was in question, he seemed like a shoo-in to play in his fourth World Cup. Then, Klinsmann hit the American soccer community with the shocking decision to cut Donovan before the World Cup.

Klinsmann insisted on Thursday that he had no regrets, or second thoughts, about leaving Donovan out of the World Cup picture. Not even two months removed from a Round of 16 exit that possibly could have been better if the U.S. had just an ounce more of quality on the field.

“You always make a decision based on what you see in that specific moment in time,” said Klinsmann. “In that moment in May, the picture for us was very clear and we were 100 percent behind the decision that we made, so we wouldn’t make any other decision.

“Obviously, months later or half a year earlier or a year earlier, we would have seen maybe other 23 (players) in that roster. But we always have to name a roster in that specific time period and then you have to be convinced of what you’re doing and I think we proved that point in Brazil.”

The question of whether Donovan should have been part of the World Cup team may never completely fade away, not with so many U.S. fans having loved Donovan, and not with so many fans believing he could have made a difference in Brazil.

While Klinsmann insisted that he didn’t regret his decision to leave Donovan home this summer, he was still more than willing to give the U.S. legend his due as Donovan prepares to take the field for the national team one last time.

“Speaking about Landon, you talk about an absolute amazing career that he represents,” said Klinsmann. “…He’s been the poster boy of the game and for MLS certainly for a long stretch of time. He raised the awareness of the game to new dimensions far before David Beckham or other big names came into the league. He deserves all of the admiration and recognition for this amazing career.”


  1. LD is basically Shaq. They both could have been 4.0 students college, but they both would rather be 3.3 students and have more fun. Like it or not, LD could have absolutely done more with the right mentality.

  2. Klinsmann didn’t care for Donovan taking care of his mental health, taking time out, leaving a toxic situation in Germany. I suppose having a player push through beyond his limits was more of JK’s preference. After all, it worked so well for Robert Enke.

    • You should have watched his press conference today, then you would have heard Lord Donovan admit he should have stayed and pushed while in Germany. He wasn’t used to how being a pro worked and thought he wasn’t cutting it. He said his biggest wish was that someone told him at Leverkusen that this is how the process works and to stick it out.

      LD is out of the picture and JK isn’t going anywhere. Show support for the team instead of one player. This is disgusting the way LD is idolized in a country where soccer isn’t even the number one sport

  3. I’ve been watching US soccer for several years now. SEVERAL. And yet I’ve never even heard of this Linden Danavan player. I think JK is right in not praising him because if a fan of the game like me has never heard of him, he doesn’t deserve to play.

  4. To clarify: mnt-first means if you were portuguese you’d gladly trade all CR’s club productivity for some national team memories. Is that you?

  5. I wonder if LD skepticism is better or worse represented among fans who are mnt-first in their orientation. I’m guessing worse. Because they’ve actually seen him play a lot.

  6. “You always make a decision based on what you see in that specific moment in time,” said Klinsmann. “In that moment in May, the picture for us was very clear and we were 100 percent behind the decision that we made, so we wouldn’t make any other decision.

    “Obviously, months later or half a year earlier or a year earlier, we would have seen maybe other 23 (players) in that roster. But we always have to name a roster in that specific time period and then you have to be convinced of what you’re doing and I think we proved that point in Brazil.”

    stupid hack like me saw LD’s form rising like it always does each season, reported it here, and Klinsi couldn’t see that or know that? BS. Geez people call a spade at least. The notion it had to do with form is so pathetic. Klinsi didn’t want him? FINE! Sack up and admit it, grow a spine

    but he won’t

    • beachbum,

      “Klinsi didn’t want him? FINE! Sack up and admit it, grow a spine but he won’t

      What is ambiguous to you about cutting Donovan and then later on saying:

      ” In that moment in May, the picture for us was very clear and we were 100 percent behind the decision that we made, so we wouldn’t make any other decision.”
      JK has plenty of spine , sack up and admit it.

  7. I have trouble calling out Donovan for “taking the easy route” when he’s pushed himself to become the best US soccer player ever, had the burden of being the face of US soccer and been a strong role model. This isn’t natural talent: this is dedication, drive, focus and hard work.

    His comment in August hints at his level of dedication and sacrifice: “For 16 years, almost every decision I’ve made, every hour of every day, has revolved around, ‘How is this going to prepare me for tomorrow’s training session or tomorrow’s game?'”

    Donovan is self-aware enough to know that his own happiness is a motivating factor. He’s prioritized that over money, prestige or public opinion. Maybe it’s an unusual trait for an elite athlete, but it is what it is. It’s hard to say what would have happened at the top level. Maybe he spends 2-3 miserable years coming off the bench at BM in stoppage time and us fans label him a failure. And without Donovan in the MLS, the Beckham experiment never happens or fails and the MLS stagnates.

    Instead, he’s been the face of US soccer and made the MLS a better league which from a long term perspective is the best thing that could have happened. Without Donovan I doubt I would be following the MLS. I’m was a McBride fan, but it was always difficult to follow his Fulham games and difficult to get excited about watching Fulham.

    As a fan I would have loved to see a no-holds-barred Donovan, but I also recognize that his openness and complexities have endeared him to me in a way that few athletes have. I don’t know of any player that is going to be able to fill the void he leaves behind and the entertainment value he’s provided.

    • That’s a rose-colored perception if I ever saw one. Donovan found himself on the brink of early retirement several times, and by his own admission suffered from periodic spells where his passion for the sport dwindled.

      Like I said earlier, I won’t fault him on a personal level for staying in his comfort zone and putting his happiness over prestige, but that is just another way of saying that he is uncomfortable in uncertain situations where he faces players as good or better than him on a daily basis. In MLS, there was never any doubt he was “the man,” and he just didn’t have the mental toughness that makes great players thrive in that situation.

      Saying he never cared about fame is misguided. He embraced becoming the face of soccer in the US, but only did so because he recognized he was the best player. He did modeling. He accepted sponsorships. He was very much happy being famous. If anything, playing in a tougher league might have reduced his notoriety, making him “just another player” instead of the marquee player.

  8. So did our Captain Dempsey not give it 100 percent in his career because he did not stick it out at Tottneham? Did Tim Howard not give 100 percent in his career because he did not stick it out at Manchester City? It scares me how little Klinsmann understands about the American soccer player.

    • When did Howard play at Manchester City? You mean Manchester United, and he didn’t run away from there he was dropped for not being good enough. He found his depth at Everton and no one can say that he shrank from a challenge for that. Sometimes players just aren’t up to the level. If he had been at City in those days, he’d have fit in nicely because that was before City became contenders with deep-pocketed owners.

      Dempsey likewise did not run away from Tottenham; he was on the outside looking in. His situation is less comparable because of his age. Donovan ran from challenges in the prime of his career. Dempsey spent his prime fighting for minutes at Fulham, meeting every challenge that came (and there were many). Dempsey, unlike Donovan, pursued the challenge of playing out of his depth. Unfortunately for him, he had no takers to give him the obstacle he craved (playing in the CL).

      • I think you’re overlooking the fact that Dempsey probably played in Europe at least in part to make more money (which is fine btw because playing soccer is his job). Once he could make more in MLS, he immediately came home. I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with staying in MLS, playing in front of your home fans in your home country, and helping to grow the game here, instead of playing for some mid-table club in a European league where the fans will forgot you existed two minutes after you leave. Players make choices that are (hopefully) right for them and I don’t think fans should get in an uproar over it.

  9. People seem to forget that athletes are human beings. Maybe LD couldn’t have produced at his highest level unless he felt “comfortable” or whatever term you want to use. It’s easy for outsiders to say he should’ve moved here or played for such and such club. Sure, I guess his career would be even more impressive if he’d succeeded at Bayern but what he actually did accomplish is worth celebrating.

    • Who said it’s not worth celebrating? It’s just not worth making him into some larger-than-life icon of the sport when he could have done so much more in his career.

      It goes without saying that he wouldn’t have appeared the same quality player if he were in an uncomfortable situation, because he would have been playing against better opposition. That’s precisely the argument against labeling him as a great player instead of a good one.

      • LD got the most out of his career by doing exactly what he did.

        I have little doubt that had he spent a lot more time chasing a Euro dream it would have detracted from his overall accomplishments.

        He had the talent to do more but he would not have been happy. He chose being happy.

        Nothing wrong with that . And there is nothing wrong with people pointing out he could have done more. That criticism comes with the territory. And I’m sure LD is laughing all the way to the bank.

      • If you never try to achieve greatness you can never be called great. If that is LDs attitude, then he doesn’t deserve all this hero worship.

  10. I agree with Klinsmann.

    Donovan pushed himself in his youth, discovered the limits of his physical talent, and decided he was more comfortable playing against the quality of opponent that he could dominate. He was never comfortable with the uncertainty of having players just as good as (or better than) him fighting him for minutes.

    I don’t blame him on a personal level for deciding to stay in a comfortable zone wherein he could thrive, but it came at the expense of striving for true greatness against the world’s best. This lack of real challenges in his playing career put him at a level where he could impress against certain opponents and disappear against others. He was always good enough to impose his will on CONCACAF teams and second and third tier teams from other confederations, but he never looked like a player who could score against the elites and make a real difference.

    I thought perhaps he had turned a corner when he accepted the loan deal to Bayern, but I think he refused the chance to make the move permanent when Klinsmann made it clear he would be fighting for every minute. The loan to Everton was enticing, but again, I think he was afraid of making the move to England. I still laugh when I read his quotes about how his stint there “proved [he] could play against the best in the world.” He had his moments, but he was no lock for the starting 11 week in-week out.

    This mentality also made him unable to effectively captain his country, which a player of his stature should have done. I remember when Bradley tried to give him the armband and he was just too passive to play the role, and his lack of dedication was/is well-documented.

    I celebrate his achievements. He’s the best talent the US has ever produced. But I won’t pretend he’s some kind of legendary soccer god on the global scale. Even as American players go, I still put him behind the likes of Dempsey and McBride, players who rose to, and met, the challenge of playing at the highest level.

    • MLS placed a 10 million dollar price tag on him, Everton could not afford. Moyes had to address how the funds weren’t there because all the everton fans wanted. MLS blocked the move, not Donovan.

      • There is no doubt in my mind that Donovan couldn’t have leveraged his status as a face of the league to force that move.

  11. I’m gonna say it. I always had the feeling that had Klinsi brought Donovan to Brazil he would have been in the place where Wondo was in the Belgium game and he would have buried that goal sending the US to the Quarterfinals (where they would have probably lost to Argentina). We’ll never know…

    • Would he had been in Wondo’s place (probably). However woulda, coulda, shoulda. Would Howard have had 50 yr old record breaking performance (maybe/maybe not on the cosmic balance). Truth be told, we do not know if that opportunity would have existed because we might have played differently etc. I would have loved to be in the quarters, but on the balance Belgium was a MUCH better team and they would have been robbed not going through. Seriously, their midfield is MILES ahead of ours even with LD. They are legitimately the 3rd best team in Europe and arguably top 5/6 in the world.

      Wondo was looking great (even by LD’s words during an interview when he complained about not being to train hard or go all the way every day anymore). I was taken aback when LD was hyping his competition for a spot so much in public and stating his shortcomings. I was like you are competing for a spot against him.

      Either way, I still would have broke him instead of Brad Davis, but I can live with the omission which others clearly can’t.

  12. ““I wish he would’ve gone a longer time at Bayern Munich to prove his point because he was right there. All he needed was a goal here and there in one of the games that he came on and maybe he can explain (why he didn’t stick it out) better.”

    You know who else didn’t last very long at Bayern? Klinsmann. Bro, you got canned there, didn’t even complete your first season. And you’re one of Germany’s all time greats.

  13. The US has never produced a world class field player — a regular starter for a Champions League caliber contender, a “Big Four” (or five) English side, a Barca or Madrid team, or a traditional Spanish or German power. Donovan maybe possibly shoulda coulda woulda have been that kind of player if he had found the right situation in Europe early on and has his head wrapped around the idea of pushing himself for that goal. He didn’t, so we don’t know. I suspect he probably was a tier or two below that kinds of player at his consistent best. I don’t blame him as an individual for wanting to earn millions of dollars to play soccer in Los Angeles though. Its his life. When the US produces five or ten Donovan types someday, hopefully one or three of them will take a different path.

    • That will still be true when the US wins a WCup. 100% certain of that.

      Just more US insecurities and condesention when prople say we dont have World Class talent.

      • We have had a few world class goalkeepers, but I don’t think anyone can honestly say we’ve ever had a top 20 player in the world at any field position. The sum is greater than the parts, I’ll grant you that, but there is a reason why so few countries have won a World Cup and its not because other teams don’t try hard.

      • Really? Name the truly world class talent we have. You know, top 20/25 or so outside goal keepers. Our best outfield players of that generation LD/CD/Jones/DMB/Boca were not world class. Although, I truly believe LD could have been because he had elite level talent. True elite level talent. Can’t begrudge a guy for going millions while living on beach during his career. However, he could have been that guy…and no…he is not considered world class (American or not).

    • This will not happen for a LONG time becuase American players have the stigma of being “American” so just not good enough. For an American to play for these caliber of teams that will have to be twice as good as their Europena counterparts. FACT.

    • Was he that good in May?

      He pretty much stunk out loud against that last friendly against Mexico…he stunk in camp, so Jurgen brought him in off the bench…where he failed, utterly, to make any sort of impact in that “super-sub” role everybody thought he’d be. At that point, too, his MLS form was pretty dire, and he was looking…chubby, by Landon’s standards, slow, and uninspired. He was doing a pretty good impersonation at that point of a guy who had lost more than a step and didn’t have the fire in the belly anymore.

      Looking at that, do I see how Jurgen arrived at the conclusion – in May – that Landon Donovan might not belong in Brazil? Yup. In May he was looking like a burnt-out player. I thought he was past it at that point too, and I definitely can see how Jurgen thought so.

      • “was he that good in May?”

        yes. And also many here predicted his rising form, while Klinsi, the head coach, could not. More than that, LD’s history shows he builds as the season wears on and he shows up in big games. And more than that, Klinsi said he was not good enough to play wing…lmfao at that ridiculous belief.

        while you and other STILL cling to the argument that this had to do with LD’s form…and you’re a coach? wow

      • I’m actually back and forth.

        I’ve seen Landon rise to the occasion, a lot. In particular I watched him take over the Gold Cup, under Klinsmann – that was the best soccer I ever watched him play, and I didn’t think he was still that good. Yeah, yeah, it was against a bunch of CONCACAF B teams…but man, he was dominant. And in watching the guy I did kind of have the sense he was sort of mentally “saving” himself for one last World Cup run.

        But I was kind of taken aback by his form against Mexico. He really did not look good. And those comments about “how he just couldn’t train like he used to, and Bruce Arena understands that”…I wanted to take out a board and whack myself over the head with it. Facepalm stuff.

        Me personally, I probably would have brought him. You’ve got 23 slots…if he’s not panning out, you bench him, you’ve got 22 other guys, and the upside is there. Against that, though, I would have been aware of the potential disruptive influence on the locker room if he was out of form…if your “talisman” is fading and can’t deliver, it can cripple a team, because you mentally count on him and when he doesn’t deliver, it can be crippling. This is exactly why, say, England has been so perpetually disappointed in Wayne Rooney…they always want him to step up and be The Man for them, and he never quite seems to. And Jurgen had been let down by Donovan before…so one can understand that his perception of Donovan might not have been as positive as that of most of us. Donovan proved himself to Bruce Arena, both with LA and with the USMNT. He proved himself to Bob Bradley. Jurgen, on the other hand, believed in him, brought him to Bayern, watched him fold and then run home…and then when Jurgen took over the USMNT, the first thing Landon did was go on sabbatical – during qualifying. One can understand why Jurgen might have viewed Landon’s dip in form with somewhat more jaded eyes.

        So I kind of see both sides. Ultimately I kind of come down on the notion that it’s the coach’s job to make a team he’s most comfortable with, and he’ll be judged on his results. Jurgen’s results were, he got us out of the Group of Death, and almost pulled a bunny out of his hat against an exceptionally talented Belgium squad in the Round of 16, and now he’s got a team loaded with young players and depth, whereas the squad he took over in 2011 was in dire, dire shape, and needed an almost top-to-bottom rebuild. (Do you remember how the team looked in the 2011 Gold Cup? I certainly do!)

      • Exactly. Too many people seem to have lost perspective of that time right before WC training camp. I remember that Mexico match vividly. And I was absolutely shocked at Landon’s (poor) form, and at his (lack of) fitness. And he looked visibly overweight. Taken with his obvious disillusionment with the game, I was not surprised at all at his being cut. Could I imagine a scenario where LD rounds into form enough to make an impact in Brazil, sure. But I don’t blame Klinsmann one bit for his choice. Love LD and his career, but he only has himself to blame for being left off the 2014 squad.

  14. For the record, on tonight’s ESPNFC, the guests were Burly, Hislop, Nichols, and Kasey Keller.

    The question put to them was basically the same question JK was asked: ” Did Landon Donovan fill his potential”
    All 4 basically gave the same answer. And it was about exactly what JK said.
    They all said, best US field player ever produced, best MLS player ever, best player for the usmnt.
    But that he never truly challenged himself for any significant time against the world’s best. They all mentioned his several Germany stints that didn’t go so well, and his two Everton loans going better, specifically his 2nd loan spell when he shined. And they all said they would have liked to see him try and test himself for 3-4 years at that level. Burly specifically said when he thinks of someone as a top player, that top players want to test themselves against the top competition, and didn’t feel he did that, but rather always went back to MLS where he was heads above the competition, and in his comfort zone.
    Nichols said he did stay the face of MLS and that helped the league, but to answer the question it was a unanimous no, that he didn’t…and wondered if years from now if he would look back and regret not pushing himself against the world’s best for a few years….

    It sounds like their discussion was pretty much exactly what JK said.

    • That’s a perfectly normal opinion, although the failure of his attempts in Germany are overblown. However, JK didn’t couch his criticisms in the same prestige–best US field player ever produced, best MLS player ever, best player for the usmnt–and he is supposed to the man’s coach, not a member of the press.

      • Yes AMP, I was merely stating that these others; on the same day that question is put to JK; (including Keller).. answered in almost the exact same fashion.
        But JK’s comments will forever now be analyzed in the context that will change nothing – but forever provide a platform – for his detractors to see and read only what they want to…. and to somehow turn every post on the usmnt into a JK vs. LD string of venom.

      • detractors? come on man. Klinsi did this to himself. This is the guy who sold America that LD is not a winger! If not buying that jar of cheese makes me a detractor, thank you for the label my friend. For those who falsely bought, and defended, that BS decision and continue to do so in the face of actual reality, what label should we give them?

      • Detractors is a term, just like critic, hater, non believer, supporter, apologist, fan, believer, are all terms. Whether you call them labels or terms or definitions isn’t the point…they’re all the same.
        I neither supported nor criticized what JK said here, I just pointed out that all the guys on ESPNFC basically gave the same answer that he did.
        And my response to AMP was that every post continues to provide an avenue for this never ending debate. Whether one feels JK did this to himself, or was totally justified, is irrelevant to my point.
        There are supporters and non supporters..everyone has their respective opinion and take. And the history of the SBI articles would show that no matter what the topic.. the same arguments continue to arise… their validity lies in everyone’s respective opinion.. of which I’m not passing judgement or a position on.

      • No. How specifically do you read that I’m passing judgement one way or the other? I neither endorsed nor disagreed with what JK said, or what the guys on ESPN said, I said they sounded like the same message..
        And then gave context of how this ongoing issue continues to be debated. How is anything I specifically said passing judgement? I have my post WC thoughts which I’ve kept to myself by not posting in a long time.. but how can one interpret my comments today as passing judgement…

      • beachbum, I love all my children equally.

        I often like your posts, but here I don’t think they add anything to the discussion. In fact, I think they…detract 😉

    • I wonder how he would be viewed if he had played in Europe, scoring goals in Champions league on a big club but then for the most part did nothing of note on the National team.

  15. Now I wish Franco had published this as an article “quoting” Gulati or Arena or Howard, waited for the positive feedback from Klinsmann haters, then revealed the switcheroo.

    “He deserves all of the admiration and recognition for this amazing career.” What more do people want from Klinsmann, a three-colored fingerpaint with the words “World’s Greatest Footballer” spelled in macaroni?

  16. Better yet, call it Chinatown and let your unreachable best player help us into another quarterfinals before enforcing your personality cult for 2018

  17. Yeah…this is kind of a classless set of comments. Come on Klinnsman, say some nice things and let him ride off Into the sunset. Don’t crap on his moment, man. I realize this is Klinnsman’s opinion, but it is just that–an opinion. My opinion is that Donovan is the greatest USMNT player, for on-field reasons and for what he meant to the development of soccer in America during its blossoming years. And my opinion is that Donovan has had a great career. Do I wish he had a Champions League medal? Sure. But he has been successful and integral over a long, illustrious career. Celebrate that, say nice things, and move on, Klinnsman. And don’t ruin a great chance to let the ignominy of the summer fade a bit under a respectful gesture–don’t ruin it with all this nitpicking and opinioning. Arghhh. What’s his deal? Why can Klinnsman not be a statesman?

    • Was he hired to be a Statesman?

      He gets called a liar all the time by Donovan’s acolytes and then when he’s honest you want him to lie.

    • I think that the simple, simplistic answer is: he’s German.

      To elaborate on that idea a little, my thought is that Juergen comes by these ideas honestly, as any great German footballer would. He was forged in a Prussian mold, and doesn’t care for reason in any shape or form. As far as he’s concerned, it is or it isn’t, and when talking about LD, it isn’t. Landon doesn’t exhibit the drive and passion Klinsmann wants USMNT players to display. I’m pretty sure you swap out Klinsmann for another German great like Beckenbauer or Mueller and the attitude would be exactly the same, if not worse.

      I would bet money that Klinsmann believes that Landon is at fault for Dempsey, Bradley, Johnson, Jones and Beasley coming to MLS. I would bet money that Klinsmann believes that MLS is not good enough competition for his players. I would bet money that Klinsmann sees Donovan as less of a man for having played in MLS for most of his career. At the end of the day, he doesn’t respect Donovan, and again, it is what it is. Klinsmann can prefer his Germanic heritage players and decry that flag-waving, never-say-die American attitude that would as soon watch Rambo III as kick a soccer ball. He’s attained much during his career, and you can’t take any of his accomplishments away from him.

      The real question is this: Will Klinsmann be able to mold American (yes, Mexican-American and German-American, too) players in the manner in which he was once molded? IF he’s able to do this, able to impart a style and a philosophy into our current crop of U-17 and U-23s, we will be unstoppable. For emphasis: Unstoppable.

      However, Juergen’s not that flexible, and it’ll probably end in tears. Only time will tell how all of this will work out.

  18. I’m so f’n over this!

    Klinnsman is a gamer and competitor to a fault in many eyes. I’m in complete agreement that LD took an easier route, didn’t deserve to be on the USMNT in Brazil, and is just not as head strong of a footballer as Klinnsman is/was. And that’s okay, it is what it is.

    • Please do not use proper logic, rational thought and emotional maturity on this board or else you may become known as a LegenD hater

      • did you know that in 2013 LD scored more goals for the USMNT than in any other year he played except for one, and also in 2013 he had more assists than in any other year for the USMNT but one? Did all that after Klinsi INVITED him back. Not bad for a guy Klinsi judged as not able to contribute to the team

    • I totally agree.

      Donovan was a great player and served the USMNT well for a number of years but for the last 3 years hes been nothing but a hindrance and I’ll be happy to see him go. He should have retired from the international game when he decided to take that sabbatical and saved everyone the headache.

  19. So if LD and JK had serious beef back in the day (Munich), which it appears they did, Donovan must have hated JK being hired as USMNT coach. He might have even had doubts from the outset, about his role on the squad, and his chances of playing in a fourth WC. That would be stressful.

      • Maybe serious beef was hyperbole, excuse me. It’s obvious Donovan wasn’t comfortable there, and making your players feel welcome is a big part of being a coach and leader. I think LD would’ve been upset by this coldness, and add to that, the tension between LD and JK is inherent, because of how different from each other they are.

        I think, as a coach, yes, you want all your players hungry to improve, whatever their ego, and at times, you want them afraid of losing minutes to another player. But, you still want them to feel like they are a part of the family.

        I think it’s beef from the get go, and of a profound, unreconcilable sense.

      • Based off my previous comment, I would hope you could see this answer coming from a mile away.

        Landon Donovan, and whomever leads the team.

        I’m not even saying that it’s mostly the coaches fault that these situations don’t work out, just that I hold them more accountable.

        When a player has a history of performing, then doesn’t perform with you as an exception to the rule, and goes on performing elsewhere….you probably could have handled him better.

      • “When a player has a history of…”

        That’s what I’m saying. Landon has a history…of not fitting in to places where he would have to really step out of his comfort zone. There’s only so much blame that can be laid on the various coaches/captains. Sure, Landon wants to feel welcome at Bayern, etc., but part of that means getting into the starting XI…and that means someone else getting dropped. They’re teammates, but competitors too.

        fwiw, I have no doubt that Klinsmann could have handled all of his interactions with Donovan better. I’m not letting him off.

        (Also, fwiw, I wasn’t clear before whether you would put any blame on LD. It sounds like you and I are more-or-less on the same page.)

  20. Klinsmann says Lando deserves praise for his MLS career, but never addresses his quality as a player. I know he can’t come out and say exactly how he really feels about him as a person or player for a long time to come, but you can still be respectfully vague, and say that you think he’s one the best USMNT players to ever play, or something like that. You’d say something like that out of respect for LD’s legacy, and the millions of USMNT supporters who know how key he was to the team for so long.
    Normally, when mentioning a retiring player, we talk about how they played, and what moments they could, and did, create. We talk about numbers, baby! Sure, we talk about what could have been, but not to the media if we are currently supposed to be that player’s leader. I know they dislike each other, but it must be hate for JK to want to bash a legend in his player pool on the eve of his last ever USMNT game.

    • His quality as a player was addressed when he said that if he had stuck it out he could have made it at Bayern Munich one of the best club teams in the world. To make it at Bayern one must be an elite talent and Jurgen clearly stated he though Landon was at that level.

      • Also, fans who think Klinsi has to pay lip service to Donovan are nuts. Donovan did absolutely nothing for Klinsi; he only made his job harder.

        So what does Klinsi owe him? Sure he’s the US coach now. But it was guys like Bradley and Arena who should praise him.

        Klinsi has said how wonderful he’s been for the US. He was honest and said Donovan didn’t push himself to become the player he could have become – and we all know that.

        What more do you want? Klinsi has done what was need for soccer politics, Donovan will get his 30 minutes, and the team will move on.

        Nostalgia is fine, but the team moved on from Donovan two years ago. Fans have to learn to do that too.

      • no lip service, or anything else from Klinsi, is required

        but your claim LD did nothing for Him is false. Look at LD’s 2013 numbers for the USMNT…arguably his best ever in the uniform once Klinsi invited him back

    • AMP, please provide:

      1. Full text of Klinsmann’s comments
      2. Full text of the questions Klinsmann was responding to when he made those comments.

      Otherwise, it reeeeeally just looks like you’re fault-finding.

      And really, “absolute amazing career” is bashing?!

      • First off, the fact that he is criticizing LD not giving a hundred percent in his career, just before the dudes last US game and upcoming MLS retirement, sets the tone for which I read his spare, specific praises.

        Not giving 100% –
        “As a coach, you want to see a player that drives for his 100 percent. I’m looking at Landon always and I wish in a certain way, ‘He could have done a bit more here and a bit more there,’”

        Prasies –

        “but he had a tremendous career, so he deserves that farewell tomorrow night.”

        Notice the quote starts with “but”.

        “Speaking about Landon, you talk about an absolute amazing career that he represents,” said Klinsmann. “…He’s been the poster boy of the game and for MLS certainly for a long stretch of time. He raised the awareness of the game to new dimensions far before David Beckham or other big names came into the league. He deserves all of the admiration and recognition for this amazing career.”

        Why not just end by saying that, “Donovan deserves all of the admiration and recognition he receives’? Why does he continually have to qualify his praise on one word?

        Maybe you’re right, and I’m tripping. Maybe he’s trying to appear diplomatic, I just don’t think he’s doing a very good job.

      • Dude! You’re tripping. He praises him placing him in the same stratosphere as Beckham, Henry et al for his importance to M L S!

      • I think you are being sarcastic. But just in case…

        JK said LD helped to raise awareness to the league before those others. He doesn’t make a comparison, and say that LD raised as much awareness. And it isn’t high praise, since I doubt he cares much for how important a player is to MLS growth. How many times has Klinsmann encouraged players to push themselves in leagues overseas, or publicly criticized MLS?

      • Point well made.As always the media will stir the pot. Even out of context Jurgen’s comments suggest that Landon did not push himself enough do not seem appropriate Certainly now. I know that Jurgen is driven. But the class thing would be to talk about what Landon has done and not what he didn’t do.It seems somewhat likely that these two great soccer players very much dislike for each other. There was always something missing from my perspective. A lack of charisma and perhaps a not very likable person. Put simply he is the greatest American soccer player of all time. This is what Jurgen should have said. Stick to the facts. That statement does not need to be qualified or expounded upon.

    • @AMP, Jurgen is German and his comments are very German. He may have lived in the US for a long time but he is still German. He is going to give praise but he won’t hesitate to point out short comings if he sees them, that is what Germans do.
      (I also philosophically acknowledge that all human being defy categorization which is exactly what I did with a category of Jurgen = German, but that being said Jurgen gave a very “German” answer)

      • This. Klinsi has always called out players for not pushing themselves. It’s in his nature as a champion. I have no problem with this at all.

  21. It is not likely that both Arena and Donavon are still with the Galaxy in 2019 when the Galaxy play an exhibition match in Moscow.(In February?)

  22. Good piece, Franco. Very well done.

    I’m going to go hide behind some furniture now before the food fight breaks out.

      • Awww…. Christ… would you look at that?!? All over my new USMNT “Zelalem” jersey.

        That’s it… hand me that tapioca over there. Foul Throw coming your way KGE.

      • Go right ahead and throw it, Maradoughnuts, because I am wearing my USMNT Landon Donovan jersey—which as you know is perpetually flawless and impervious to stain.

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